Many patients and people have asked me over the years what supplements they could and should be taking and have always been surprised when I advised them not to waste money on vitamin pills and instead aim to get nutrition out of their food. What about Royal Jelly they ask, should I be taking that? This blog post hopes to shed a bit of light on the matter and people can make their own decision.
You can also research more yourself about Royal Jelly as there is a lot of information floating around there. But unfortunately, a lot of it is just a repeat from other websites. Admittedly, I also used some information about Royal Jelly from others websites and I hope it doesn’t appear to be a repeat. Hopefully this blog post will identify some of the misnomers and inaccuracies and point out some of the clearly made up stuff.
Is Royal Jelly an Ancient Chinese medicine?
I have come across websites stating that the information they have about Royal Jelly has been sourced from ancient Chinese classical medical texts. Unfortunately, this is not true. Royal Jelly has only been used in China, and manufactured per se in China since the 1950’s after finding out about it from the west. When modern texts in China discuss Royal Jelly they make references to what the western world had reported in literature such as that Cleopatra used to use it. Chinese medicine is a constantly evolving medicine and new herbs are being constantly added to their repertoire. Old herbs have new information about their uses regularly added and documented as discoveries are made and research done on them. Royal Jelly is a relatively new medicine in terms of Chinese medicine having only been used since the 1950’s.
What then, do the modern Chinese medicine physicians say about Royal Jelly?
Chinese herbs and medicines always travel in a certain meridian and Royal Jelly travels directly to the spleen, liver and kidney meridians. Its taste is said to be sweet, slightly bitter and sour. Some of the more traditional medical concepts about Royal Jelly are that it strengthens the spleen, benefits the liver, is a tonic and treats childhood nutritional impairment disorder. Furthermore, Royal Jelly also treats insomnia with disturbed dreams, low energy (Qi) and blood, thin sperm, impotence, low weak back and knees, forgetfulness, weak protective energy (Wei Qi) and people who are susceptible to easily catching colds.
From a modern medical perspective, Royal Jelly is said to lower blood sugar levels, blood pressure, has anti-bacterial properties that may help in preventing cancer particularly liver cancer, treats arthritis and duodenum collapse. Remember that some of these modern medical claims the Chinese have recorded may have come from modern Chinese physicians reading western material.
Is Royal Jelly good for weight loss?
The more you read about Royal Jelly, the more things it seems to treat. So weight loss would have to be included in that list. But does Royal Jelly actually help for weight loss? Angela from Bee Pollen Buzz says Royal Jelly has a compound in it which causes thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is a component of the metabolic rate and may increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Thermogenesis essentially increases body heat. However, I would like to point out that many foods and herbs also do this, including coffee, tea, cayenne, guar gum, capsicum, ginger and most meats like chicken, turkey and red meats yet none of these are particularly well known for weight loss.
Another example of wishful thinking with regards to weight loss and Royal Jelly is written by Organic Facts. They conclude that because Royal Jelly contains lecithin and because lecithin lowers cholesterol which improves liver and digestive function, you will therefore lose weight. Yogurt and cauliflower also contain lecithin so I suggest trying that weight loss strategy using those foods as it’s a lot cheaper than Royal Jelly.
Does Royal Jelly make you put on weight?
Modern day Chinese medicine practitioners say it is used for treating childhood nutritional impairment disorder which is basically a condition where children are under developed and underweight. Royal Jelly is regarded as an energy (Qi) tonic according to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles and Qi tonics can be prescribed for helping patients put on weight.
Taking Royal Jelly also makes you hungry. Royal Jelly from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective is a hot natured medicine and hot type spleen tonics stimulate the appetite. I prescribe Royal Jelly to boxers and kick boxers when they want to bulk up in preparation for competitions. They have made comments like “I really have to up my skipping and sit-ups and control my eating when on this stuff, but it gives me so much more energy to train harder, it’s worth it.” They also have remarked that their arms and chest feel as if they are bulking up without training. And remember the Queen Bee is just a normal bee that feeds exclusively off Royal Jelly and according to Queen Bee breeder John Dobson of Hawkes Bay who says “Queens grow up to about 40% bigger than other bees and in particular the thorax is larger.” Queen bees don’t become 40% smaller on their diet of Royal Jelly!
Is Royal Jelly an aphrodisiac or used for enhancing fertility?
Royal Jelly does contain small amounts of testosterone which some researchers suggest why it has the reputation of enhancing libido. Some doctors warn men with prostate problems to avoid testosterone and testosterone type foods. I won’t advise here except to add the comment that large amounts of artificially manufactured estrogen and testosterone injections are quite different to taking a food that contains some testosterone or estrogen. Certainly Royal Jelly is marketed by many as a libido enhancer such as the Bio Bees Royal Jelly product.
The product, Bio Bees Royal Jelly, has Ginseng, Guarana, Damiana, Ginger, Sarsaparilla, and Licorice, and is marketed as an aphrodisiac.
The Bio Bees Royal Jelly is a typical example of a herbal formula designed by marketers as opposed to a formula created by herbalists. Marketers think to just get a whole bunch of herbs that have a reputation of vaguely treating energy and libido and combine them altogether into one pill which they can promote as being really strong. This kind of approach makes as much sense as getting the top 10 most used antibiotics and adding aspirin and caffeine for good measure and combining them all into one pill for a faster and stronger effect.
Experienced herbalists know that some herbs in a specific formula combination help each other and other herbs used in a different combination may actually act as antagonists.
Royal Jelly for Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s Disease
Many alternative-type websites advocate that Royal Jelly can treat all three of these diseases. From a modern scientific research perspective, most conclude that further research is still needed.
Research has shown that Royal Jelly can affect neural function on rats and therefore concluded it may treat Multiple Sclerosis. Other research has shown it can lessen or slow paralysis in worms, so therefore it may be useful for Parkinson’s Disease. Modern medical science knows that Alzheimer’s Disease has low levels of Acetylcholine. Most modern pharmaceutical medications for Alzheimer’s are based around trying to increase the levels of Acetylcholine in the patient. These researchers know that Royal Jelly is the only substance on the planet that has pure Acetylcholine as part of its make up yet don’t do any research on Alzheimer’s and royal Jelly. One questions why researchers don’t do trials on prescribing, for example, Royal Jelly to a hundred Alzheimer’s patients and see if their caregivers notice an improvement. I have not come across any research studies with real patients with Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease and receiving Royal Jelly. The answer most likely lies in the fact that most medical research is funded by shareholders of pharmaceutical companies who have little interest in researching a natural occurring food that they can’t patent.
Royal Jelly – is it a super nutritional vitamin pill?
For the record, I am not a qualified Naturopath or Nutritionist but I can state that Royal Jelly contains numerous amounts of vitamins, proteins, neurotransmitters and contains DNA and RNA. Though I believe this is of significance, lots of other foods also contain these nutrients yet don’t have the reputation of Royal Jelly. Some sources say Royal Jelly has the highest amount of vitamin B5. I can’t answer questions like ‘Will I get more vitamin B5 from eating a whole avocado or from a quarter of a spoon of Royal Jelly?‘ I think the abundance of the varied constituents in Royal Jelly is what it makes it stand out in being unique.
And there is still an unknown 3% of Royal Jelly constituents that is unidentified.
Royal Jelly is just what it is. Royal Jelly is a unique combination of nutrients, minerals and vitamins and that combination results in some kind of special alchemical effect. I believe its magic lies in the Doctrine of Signatures.
What is the Doctrine of Signatures?
For a more detailed explanation of Doctrine of Signatures read this article on Wikipedia. But in essence; the shape of the plant, colour and texture all give clues as to what the plant as a medicinal herb may be used for. These ideas go back to ancient Greek and Roman physicians as well as Chinese physicians who used this system. For example, the small red berries of Gou Ji and are used to produce blood. Other herbs grow only near streams and therefore treat damp conditions in the body like oedema. Another example is a fungus that resembles a lung and is used for treating lung disease.
So now what about Royal Jelly. What does it look like? What is the Doctrine of Signatures of Royal Jelly? It looks like sperm. The creator of life. Hence its reputation being used to enhance libido.
According to Chinese medical thinking, sperm contains the essence of the body and is known as Jing in Chinese. Jing is responsible for many activities in the body such as memory. When you are Jing deficient you may have memory problems, dizziness, premature gray hair and tinnitus. What a coincidence that Royal Jelly contains Acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is important for memory. The Queen Bee does nothing except reproduce and is the only female bee with fully developed ovaries. Hence its reputation for promoting fertility in women. Bees and the pollination system is what keeps the planet functioning and alive. Scientists are really worried about the declining bee populations caused by over farming and pollution. As the Jing essence declines, we get symptoms of aging such as wrinkles, gray hair, arthritis and muscle wasting. All these symptoms that Royal Jelly has the ability to treat. Is it a coincidence that Royal Jelly is high in Pantothenic Acid, which is known to help prevent grey hair? Is it a coincidence that Royal Jelly helps convert testosterone? As we age, our Jing decreases and we eventually die. If the planet runs out of bees producing Royal Jelly, it will die too.
What about all the other numerous conditions that others claim Royal Jelly can treat?
There are so many of them including skin problems, children’s diseases, atherosclerosis, cholesterol, heart disease and irritable bowel to name a few. Specific diseases will always require personalised treatment. I am not in favour of herb companies promoting a herb or food to treat one specific complaint trying to compete with the pharmaceutical industry. As much as I am pro Royal Jelly, it is still not the panacea of mankind.
In particular, I personally would exercise caution when taking it to self-treat menopausal flushing, migraines and high blood pressure as other websites recommend. These conditions, according to traditional Chinese medicine, are generally aggravated by heating medicinals of which Royal Jelly is an example. An experienced herbalist should be able to counter the unwanted heating effect of Royal Jelly by moderating its action by combining it with appropriate cooling herbs.
Should I try Royal Jelly?
If you are interested in taking a general tonic I would recommend trying some Royal Jelly unless you know you have an allergy to it. More importantly, do what ever you can to encourage bees. At the current rate of declining bee populations our food will run out. Everyone should plant more flowering trees and encourage more bees like Morgan Freeman.